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Pret a Manger Settles Biometric Privacy Lawsuit

A red building with a sign that says pet la manager.

​Sandwich shop chain Pret a Manger has agreed to pay more than $677,000 to resolve a class-action claim in Illinois alleging that nearly 800 employees' fingerprints were collected and stored via its time-keeping system without first providing notice to the employees.

The Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA), passed in Illinois in 2008, sets forth a number of rules about collecting, retaining and disclosing biometric identifiers and biometric information.

The law most commonly comes up in the employment context when employers require workers to clock in and clock out using hand or fingerprint scans, but facial recognition and thermal imaging software and other technologies also may be implicated.

We've rounded up articles and resources from SHRM Online and other sources on the issue of using biometric data in the workplace.

Lack of Notice, Consent

The suit alleges Pret a Manger violated BIPA by failing to secure written authorization from workers before requiring them to use a fingerprint time clock and allegedly failing to provide workers and the public with notices explaining why it required the scans and what it would do with biometric data.

(Cook County Record)

Biometric Class Actions in Illinois on the Rise

Hundreds of class-action lawsuits have been brought in recent years against employers for violations of BIPA, the strictest biometric law in the nation. Litigation invoking the law has grown consistently since 2016, attorneys said.

(SHRM Online)

Use of Biometric Authentication at Work Grows

Biometric authentication technology—including facial and voice recognition, and hand and iris scans—is now used in many workplaces for various security and business purposes such as employee access, according to a recent survey.

(SHRM Online)

Minimize Litigation Risks When Using Biometric Data

Employers can implement several best practices to minimize the risk of becoming embroiled in litigation stemming from the use of workers' biometric data.

(SHRM Online)

States Ban Employers from Microchipping Workers

Eleven states prohibit employers from requiring job seekers or employees to have devices such as microchips or radio frequency identification device tags implanted into their bodies as a condition of employment.

(SHRM Online)


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